Re-Ranking the Playoffs

January 19, 2022

By: Carlos Alvarez

Good Morning,

A slow Tuesday in sports sped up in the evening hours with a bunch of top-10 thrillers in college basketball. Before that, we went team-by-team to re-rank the final eight in the NFL playoffs entering the Divisional Round.

Letter Rip!



Super Wild Card Pick \’Em ️

Congrats to the 44 readers who correctly picked all six Super Wild Card games over the weekend (seen below). Those 44 participants should expect an email with a link to our Divisional Round Pick ‘Em to determine the tiebreaker this weekend.

Pick ‘Em Perfection

L. Rainey, T. Welsh, S. Heverly, T. Alvey, K. Romaine, G. Traveler, C. Chambers, T. Cook, R. Osterholtz, W. Keller, R. Newton, B. Steele, M. Thompson, E. Bass, B. Tucker, J. Chapman, K. Campion, C. Phillips, T. Morgan, K. Silbert, J. Bonk, L. Katz, J. Luberda, M. Donaldson, J. Hayden, J. Schiman, N. Kalom, A. Brun, M. Kuhnhausen, K. Englebert, L. Simmons, L. Rickert, C. Scotland, T. Gallaher, R. Pratt, J. Bennington, R. Kloor, J. Casey, L. Morello, J. Bigelow, P. Cress, C. Williams, G. Markes



NFL Playoff Re-Rank


The Sportsletter’s Re-Seeding of the Remaining 8 NFL Playoff Teams


The Super Wild Card round is in the books and six playoff teams have been eliminated. With eight squads left in the Super Bowl hunt, we go team-by-team to re-rank the bracket. The Packers and Titans may be the No. 1 seeds, but a week off watching some teams shred their Wild Card foes could bring momentum to others. Here’s how we see the field heading into the Divisional Round.


NFL Divisional Weekend Schedule

AFC: (4) Bengals at (1) Titans (Sat. 4:30 pm ET)

NFC: (6) 49ers at (1) Packers (Sat. 8:15 pm ET)

NFC: (4) Rams at (2) Buccaneers (Sun. 3:00 pm ET)

AFC: (3) Bills at (2) Chiefs (Sun. 6:30 pm ET)


NFL Playoff Re-Rank


1. Packers (NFC, 1 Seed)

Green Bay still has our vote as the team to beat with Aaron Rodgers looking to leave the Packers on a high note. They’ll face the 49ers in the Divisional Round, but San Francisco’s defense has a tall task in the winter Wisconsin cold. The Pack also get three starting offensive lineman back from injury, so expect Rodgers to be well protected.


2. Chiefs (AFC, 2 Seed)

Kansas City was hotter than anyone in the second half of the season, and Patrick Mahomes was deadly accurate in their opening round blitzkrieg against the Steelers (42-21). Mahomes went for 400 yards and 5 TDs. He’ll have a tougher test against the Bills defense this weekend, and Buffalo is our next feature in the re-rank.


3. Bills (AFC, 3 Seed)

Josh Allen carved up the Patriots’ defense in the Wild Card round (47-17), and the Chiefs’ defense is likely more vulnerable. The Bills look about as good as any team in the playoffs, but their showdown with KC is likely the biggest matchup of the Divisional Round. The winner likely has the edge over the Titans/Bengals and a solid path to the Super Bowl. That’s why both the Chiefs and Bills are 2 and 3 in the re-rank.


4. Buccaneers (NFC, 2 Seed)

Tom Brady and the Bucs are riding high after steamrolling the Eagles (31-15), and TB12’s postseason resume speaks for itself. But the Bucs might have the toughest road to the Super Bowl with the Rams and, likely, the Packers standing in the way. Tampa Bay could find themselves in a shootout with L.A. this weekend, and surviving only means a trip to Green Bay barring a 49ers’ upset. We’ve got the Bucs at No. 4.


5. Titans (AFC, 1 Seed)

No disrespect to Tennessee, but the Titans skated into the 1-seed in the AFC after losing RB Derrick Henry halfway through the season. They get Henry back for the postseason, but they went 4-3 in their last seven games of the season. We expect Cincinnati to push Tennessee to the brink, but the Titans should be hosting the Chiefs or Bills in the AFC title game.


6. Rams (NFC, 4 Seed)

Los Angeles looked deadly in their blowout win against Arizona (34-11), but a trip to Tampa Bay has the NFC’s 4-seed in for a shootout. If Aaron Donald and Von Miller can make life difficult for Brady and Matthew Stafford can run up the score, we could see an upset. But the defending champs have the edge, leaving the Rams at No. 6 on our re-rank.


7. Bengals (AFC, 4 Seed)

Joe Burrow led the Bengals to their first playoff win in 32 years last week, but it was a close victory over the Raiders. The Titans will be a tougher test on the road. Burrow has been magnificent in his comeback sophomore campaign, but the road likely stops here. The Bengals only hope? Secure an early lead and force the Titans to take the ball away from RB Derrick Henry and air it out.


8. 49ers (NFC, 6 Seed)

San Francisco deserves plenty of credit for taking down the Cowboys (23-17) in the only upset of the opening round, but being the only team seeded below 4 leaves the Niners at the bottom of our list. Especially considering their opponent is our No. 1 team — the Packers. San Fran has unlocked the run game with Elijah Mitchell and Deebo Samuel’s dual threat approach, but it’s unlikely QB Jimmy Garoppolo has the firepower to outshine Aaron Rodgers.


Additional Storylines

CBS Sports: 2022 NFL Divisional Round Lookahead

ESPN+: NFL Playoff Bracket: Divisional Round, Previews & X-Factors



Road Tests: Top-10 Thrillers


Four Top-10 Teams Go Down to the Wire on the Road Against Unranked Teams


A wild night of college hoops saw four top-10 teams go on the road and get tested. Three survived close calls, but #6 Duke did not. It was Florida State who shocked the Dukies in overtime (79-78, OT). Meanwhile, #5 Baylor, #7 Kansas and #8 Wisconsin prevailed against lesser opponents. Here are the highlights from a chaotic night on the court.


NCAA Men’s Highlights

#5 Baylor def. West Virginia (77-68)

Florida State def. #6 Duke (79-78, OT)

#7 Kansas def. Oklahoma (67-64)

#8 Wisconsin def. Northwestern (82-76)


Additional Storylines

CBS Sports: Seminoles Hang On to Upset No. 6 Blue Devils in OT Thriller

NCAA: How the Transfer Portal Helped Auburn Become College Basketball’s Best Team



\"🏀\" NBA: T-Wolves Thwart Knicks Comeback

Minnesota blew a double-digit lead in the second half against New York on Tuesday night before rallying late to hold off the Knicks. The Timberwolves hit two free throws in the final minute before New York’s Alec Burks missed a game-winning 3 attempt.


\"🏒\" NHL: Flyers Lose No. 9 Via 9-Round Shootout

The losing streak keeps getting worse for the Flyers. Philly lost its ninth straight game at the hands of the Islanders in an epic nine-round shootout (4-3). Oliver Wahlstrom scored the winner to keep the Flyers in a debilitating January skid.


\"🎾\" AUS: Nadal Cruises Through 2nd Round

Among the endless Australian Open action was a straight-set drumming by #6 Rafael Nadal in Round 2. Naomi Osaka, Garbine Muguruza and plenty more took the court overnight. You can see the update scores and highlights here.



\"🏒\"  NHL Power Rankings

The Panthers\’ offensive firepower earns them the top spot, and on the other coast the Pacific Division is providing some serious drama. (CBS Sports)


\"🏀\"  Frank Vogel on the Hot Seat

The Lakers’ struggles could spell the end for Frank Vogel. Despite winning a title two years ago, he’s reportedly “coaching for his job” on a game-by-game basis. (Yahoo! Sports)


\"⚽️\"  Premier League Power Rankings

Our latest player Power Rankings have arrived, and plenty of superstars are clicking through the gears as we have crossed the midway point of the campaign. (NBC Sports)



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